Published: Fri, September 29, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Why Is Scott Pruitt's EPA Spending $25000 on Soundproofing For His Office?

Why Is Scott Pruitt's EPA Spending $25000 on Soundproofing For His Office?

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has taken at least four noncommercial and military flights since mid-February, costing taxpayers more than $58,000 to fly him to various parts of the country, according to records provided to a congressional oversight committee and obtained by The Washington Post.

The EPA has reportedly signed a almost $25,000 contract for a soundproof booth for administrator Scott Pruitt.

Acoustical Solutions, the company that was contracted to build Pruitt's "privacy booth", said that such orders are typically for rooms where hearing tests are conducted.

The booth, designed for Pruitt's privacy, is scheduled to be completed on October 9, The Washington Post reports. However, the booth ordered for Pruitt is a more costly customized version that will enable him to "communicate privately".

"Their main goal was they wanted essentially a secure phone booth that couldn't be breached from a data point of view or from someone standing outside eavesdropping", said Steve Snider, a salesman for Acoustical Solutions.

"When the administrator travels, he takes commercial flights", EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said Wednesday, explaining that the one charter flight and three government flights were due to particular circumstances.

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Liz Purchia-Gannon, a former spokesperson for former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy of the Obama administration, blasted the expense of Pruitt's new SCIF.

"Federal agencies need to have one of these so that secured communications, not subject to hacking from the outside, can be held", Bowman said.

Last month, the EPA's inspector general announced it was launching a probe into Pruitt's frequent flights home to Oklahoma. It's called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). "This is something which a number, if not all, Cabinet offices have and EPA needs to have updated".

Stan Meiburg, who served as EPA's acting deputy administrator until earlier this year, said he only ever needed to enter a SCIF a handful of occasions each year.

Under Pruitt, the EPA is becoming a more secretive place - some employees have been asked to hand over their cellphones before meetings, and Pruitt rarely uses email, instead giving directives to people in person and during meetings, the Post reports. It's been reported that the administrator, who prefers to interact with just the political appointees inside the agency, has banned note-taking during meetings and also recently requested funds for round-the-clock bodyguards.

"It's the first time that I've seen it", he said.

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